Heading into the final day of the Champions League playoff, Liverpool’s place in the group stage draw was up in the air with the Benfica-PAOK tie balanced at 1-1 after one leg. If PAOK won, Liverpool would end up in pot two. If Benfica won, Liverpool would be in pot three.
In the end, Benfica won, hammering PAOK on the road in the second leg after struggling against them at home, and with that Liverpool know that they will head into Thursday’s draw for the Champions League group stages in pot three. For many, this is a negative.
After all, with UEFA drawing one team from pots one, two, three, and four to make up each group and the strongest teams generally in groups one and two, being in pot three means a likely harder group for Liverpool—and could mean they end up in a group of death.
However, one paper at least there aren’t any sides in pot two Liverpool will be hugely wary of matching up with—they may be a pot three team today due to their scant track record in Europe in recent seasons, but every sign points to them being a pot one team by talent.
Liverpool, then, may end up in a group of death, but it will be that because of Liverpool’s inclusion and it’s difficult to imagine a group from the potential options—including even one that draws Inter Milan from pot four—the Reds won’t be favoured to advance from.
Red Star Belgrade
Liverpool cannot be drawn into a group with any other English side, meaning that in addition to one of the clubs from pot one they will face one of Benfica, Dortmund, Napoli, Porto, Roma, or Dontesk.